Klassen, John E. (1923-2009)
John Edward Klassen: pastor; born 23 February 1923 in Kamenez, Neu-Samara Mennonite Settlement, Russia, to John C. and Elizabeth (Martens) Klassen. He was the second child in a family of five sons and three daughters. In 1949, John married Leona Wiens in Matsqui, British Columbia. John and Leona had five children, one son and four daughters. John died 17 April 2009 in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
At the age of three, John moved to Canada with his parents and siblings. A farming family, they settled in southern Alberta, first in Crowfoot, then in Lindbrook some years later. There, at age 15, while listening to his grandfather Cornelius C. Klassen preach a message about heaven, John committed his life to Jesus Christ. His baptism followed the next day on 6 June 1938 in the Lindbrook Mennonite Brethren (MB) Church.
John attended the Coaldale Bible School in Alberta, but his studies were interrupted when he was called to enlist in the army. He served as a conscientious objector, primarily in forestry work in Jasper, Alberta from 1943 until his release in 1945. In 1948, the Klassen family moved to Matsqui, British Columbia. There John met Leona Wiens, and their courtship was sealed while they attended Bible school together in the South Abbotsford MB Church. They married on 6 October 1949 in the South Abbotsford MB Church, but were members of the Matsqui MB Church. Though John completed his studies in 1952, he continued, over the years, to take courses through Winnipeg Bible College, Northwest Bible College, and Regent College. He was ordained on 10 June 1956 in the Matsqui MB Church.
John and Leona Klassen ministered together for 40 years with the Mennonite Brethren Church. In 1953, called by the British Columbia Mennonite Brethren Conference, they moved to Oliver, BC. There, as part of the West Coast Children’s Mission, they started a church plant, which became the Oliver Gospel Chapel, and pastored there for 10 years. A call from the Black Creek MB Church led John and Leona to Vancouver Island, where they ministered from 1963-1974. A pastoral invitation in 1974 from the Hepburn MB Church took them to Hepburn, Saskatchewan where they served until 1981. Their 40-year ministry concluded at the Clearbrook MB Church in Abbotsford, BC where John and Leona remained in full-time ministry for 12 years, retiring in 1994. While at Clearbrook MB, they were involved in hundreds of funerals, ministering to many hurting families through their hearts of compassion. After retirement, John and Leona remained at Clearbrook MB Church, serving the people in a voluntary capacity until John’s death in 2009.
The life and ministry verse of John and Leona Klassen, Psalm 86:11, says “ Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” That motto endured throughout their journey. John and Leona modeled their heavenly Father’s heart to everyone they met, and their desire was that everyone would know and love God.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Baerg, Sharon. "Klassen, John E. (1923-2009)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2010. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/klassen_john_e._1923_2009.
APA style: Baerg, Sharon. (January 2010). Klassen, John E. (1923-2009). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/klassen_john_e._1923_2009.